According to Tops Friendly Markets, as Americans are becoming more and more health-conscious, retailers are finding customers are buying fewer food items in bulk and are becoming more conservative in their portion sizes.
In an effort to not only adapt to the changing needs of the customer but to also stay abreast of the latest store trends in maximizing space while still providing bulk options, Keith McFayden, Tops’ director of edible grocery, and his team took a step back last year and analyzed how they could accomplish both challenges with one solution.
“When we looked at the task at hand, we found we could still offer our customers the items that they wanted but be more efficient in how we went about doing so,” said McFayden. “By offering them a variety of ‘better for you’ portion-size containers vs. an endless bin with a bag and scoop, consumers can now feel confident in knowing the exact serving size, calories and evaluate the nutritional facts.”
Better-for-you packages range in size from 6-21 oz. Ideal for snacking on the go, these new packages were designed to not only contain healthy bulk food items like banana chips and locally roasted snack nuts but also more indulgent items like locally produced chocolate covered products, which better align with consumer trends as well.
Additionally, the change brought an expansion of organic items into the bulk section. More than 20 items now are being offered.
From a retail space perspective, the traditional plastic bins that previously were used took up significantly more space. Once store implementation is completed, this new approach will reduce bin size by 47 percent. The goal is to implement 12-ft. tub sections (where space exists), which will allow Tops to fully merchandise the enhanced assortment.
“This new approach allows us to be more versatile,” said McFayden. “Products can be interspersed throughout the store, whether it’s on a display near a complimentary item or near the checkout. We now have the ability to have the ready-to-go containers available at a customer’s fingertips.”
While not all Tops stores have converted their bulk departments over to the new ready-to-go containers, 60 of the 169 stores have already undergone the implementation, with the remaining on the horizon for the balance of 2018.
Tops Markets LLC is headquartered in Williamsville, New York, and operates 169 full-service supermarkets with five additional by franchisees under the Tops banner. Tops employs more than 15,000 associates in its stores, which are in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont.